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FEATURE: VIEW FROM THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM


line to help inspire. Our Oxbridge group dissects material and arguments incisively and there are lessons on student life at University, several live alumnae Q+A panels and quizzes so pupils can truly bridge the gap. We also want pupils to have fun and still stay connected, so there are also plenty of ‘just for fun’ exercises, such as the podcast challenge and silent disco playlist compilation! The Year 11s will be undertaking a mirror-image program designed to bridge the gap between GCSE and A-Level, with taster lessons for their chosen subjects and we hope it will keep them connected to us and help those who haven't quite firmed up their choices decide what they want to do.


have truly uplifting in times of difficulty. Pupils have also been putting together their


own one-minute podcasts to share with each other. Nurturing a sense of togetherness through celebration is key. The ways in which the children would normally receive praise has dramatically changed during this crisis and this is often so key to their enjoyment and motivation at school. Generating something positive and meaningful


out of this unusual time is paramount to successful learning. Our Music department has also been asking pupils to make their own instruments and to come together to play compositions that they have made. The department is also asking pupils in their lessons to create soundscapes based on social distancing using online software. In order to create these, pupils first thought about their own experiences of social distancing and identified their feelings and moods. They also considered the sounds around them throughout this period, e.g. specific birds, taps dripping, doors squeaking - whatever they noticed in their homes. They then combined all of these things into a piece of music which conveys their particular moods and incorporates the words and real sounds around them, using music technology to develop and enhance their pieces.


How is the school supporting its older pupils who have had their GCSE and A-level exams snatched away from them due to the outbreak? For those pupils in year 11 and year 13, where exams have been cancelled due to the outbreak, we are delivering a complete ‘bridging’ programme. This includes general studies remote speakers delivering online to students on such topics as positivity, mental health and student finance. Careers sessions are planned to enable them to use this time to prepare CVs and students also have access outside lecturers from King’s College London. University online courses, MOOCs, undergraduate reading lists and essay competitions all feature within this. Our academic staff are also active at this time


putting on both teacher and pupil-led talks on their specialist areas. Our biomedical group, given the current situation, are more motivated than ever and we have plenty of parents on the front


July/August 2020 www.education-today.co.uk 17


How are you supporting pupils in their personal interests outside of lessons? It is important that we recognise our role in supporting pupils and their interests outside of the classroom. The Maths department has created a virtual Maths wall on Padlet where activities and articles are posted for them to do or read that are not necessarily linked to our work in lessons. Pupils also post activities including Maths riddles. The Art department followed suit and we now


boast an online Padlet art gallery showcasing all the students’ work completed as part of enrichment during lockdown. The P.E. Department has also been busy delivering innovative remote training sessions and delivering weekly workout sessions to the entire school. The Drama department has been running remote drama club sessions and directing students towards the National Theatre online archives, which have been opened up during this time for the public. Our House system likewise has been very


important to bring together during this time. Competitions and meetings have taken place remotely and students have been working on a House Bake Off, House Drama competition and a remote sports day! The lockdown also brought opportunities for those Sixth Formers who are busy raising money for their World Challenge expedition to Malaysia and Borneo next year: they organised a staff- student-parent evening quiz raising impressive amounts and bringing the School community


together at this time. We haven’t forgotten developing leadership


skills at this time either. The entire Sixth Form Prefect selection process was moved online from remote speeches and interviews, to a whole School Google vote. Training for the new Prefect team began remotely in June.


Why is feedback so crucial in opening up the remote learning experience? Engaging pupils in the joint venture of remote learning has been important. Getting pupils to complete well-being surveys has helped us tinker with our provision and to direct pastoral support. Around lessons, staff have used simple Google forms to assess what work is being completed and how pupils are finding the lessons and this then helps staff with their planning. Sharing this feedback with the class and showing how it has influenced their lessons has a profound impact on opening up the learner’s experience. Encouraging pupils to reflect has to be part of


the offering, it is an uncertain and trying time so it is important that our children have a chance to reflect on their feelings on consistent basis.


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